The more involved I become with my church, the more I ask myself, “why do I lead?” Do I lead because I want to serve people in my community? Or do I lead because I want to be seen as insightful and intelligent? Or maybe even to be useful?
Right now I can say with confidence that it’s because I want to serve. I want to make the world better. I want more people to know Jesus. I want more people to experience the freedom I have because of my relationship with God.
But there’s always a temptation there. Satan is clever, and he’s good at using our own strengths against us. I am no exception.
God – Please keep me centered on you. Don’t let the excitement of new opportunities, new challenges, and new contributions pull me from you. Don’t let me think that what the church needs is more of me, remind me that what it really needs is more of you. Help me fight back the temptations to be seen as smart, to be seen as clever, to feel that I am needed. Let me serve because I love you, and nothing more.
This week on R3 I’ve been talking a lot about obedience. Sometimes obedience takes the form of strange requests from God. Sometimes obedience is to the mundane, “every day” activities like doing your job or taking care of your family. So it seems appropriate to include it in my prayers.
a prayer for obedience
God help me to be obedient. Because it seems that most days no matter how much I say I want to follow you, when it comes down to it, I’d rather be doing my own thing. I know that you ask us to do things because it’s in our best interest. You don’t waste our time with doing unnecessary things. But it’s so hard to break from the selfish desires. So many things in this world say “it’s all about me”. So many things tell me I should only care about myself. But that’s not true. Help me to remember that. Help me to overcome those things.
Help me to listen, and act, even when I don’t really feel like it. Help me overcome myself.
Is there anything easier than comparing what you have with what other people have? More importantly is there any faster way of making yourself depressed? Psychologists have even built entire theories around these social comparisons.
We often think that just because you believe in Jesus, it means your life gets easier. Often that’s not the case. And just because you believe, it doesn’t mean you are less likely to compare yourself to others.
Lord – Help me to stay focused on you. Remind me that my job isn’t to judge, but to be faithful. It’s not to be jealous, but be trusting. Yet…it’s hard, and I often fail. It’s so much easier for me to look around and see the lives people live, and the things people have than to trust you. Help me to break that habit. Help me to stay focused on you, even when my eyes want to wander away. Help me to be excited about what I have, not jealous of what I don’t need.
Sometimes I get caught up in my life. I get wrapped up in the details as they say. I worry about the little things and because of that I stop focusing on what God is doing in my life. Third Day has a song called “Blind” that captures this thought nicely.
How could I have been so blind to not see you
The more that I look the more I find
You’ve led me to the truth
That I am nothing if I’m without you
You opened my eyes and helped me to find
How could I have been so blind
focusing on God
God, all too often I spend my time worrying about all the mistakes I’ve made instead of focusing on you. Help me not to do that. Remind me that you’ve already forgiven my past, and I can’t control the future, so help me to just focus on the present. Help me to always keep my eyes fixed on you. So even if it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything, as long as I’m following you let that be enough. Amen.
<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer asking to remain focused on God>
I have now reached 5 days without power, and I have to admit, I’m a little cranky. Living without power has really forced me to consider a few things as I mentioned earlier. But the most pressing is being caught between feelings of helplessness and “in the overall scheme of things this isn’t a big deal.” Depending when you ask me, I’m either irritated or I’ll simply shrug my shoulders and say, “who cares?” As a wise friend said the other day, “this storm reminds me that there is a God, and I am not him.”
God - I’m confused. Part of me feels helpless. I can’t get into a rhythm with my life. My routines are destroyed, and I find that I draw a lot of comfort from those routines. Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I need to draw more comfort from you, and less from what I do with my time. But I admit, not all of me feels helpless. Part of me feels perfectly calm, because I know that none of these problems really matter. Who cares if I can’t watch TV for a week? Who cares if I had to throw away all my food? What does it matter if I need to burn candles instead of flip a switch? You tell us to not worry, because it won’t add a day to our lives. And that if the flowers of the field don’t worry about clothing, we shouldn’t worry about our situations – because you already know what we need.
I know that there are people in worse shape than me. But I still find myself being selfish. I seem to be caught jumping from one extreme to the other. And I feel guilty about that. Help me to center myself on you. Help this storm, this irritation, become something that draws me closer to you.
Pull me closer Lord, pull me closer.
<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer for people who are currently living without power, both here and abroad>
Being a Christian means stepping into dangerous situations. We’re called to care for the sick and needy, and to comfort the hurting. Unfortunately this doesn’t always come with a hall pass. Which means, sometimes Christians end up facing hardship, persecution, and death. But that doesn’t mean we can give up. In fact, the more we stick to it in the face of danger, the more we show people the power of Christ.
God – I’m a coward. I know it. You know it. Help me to step into the places you call me to, despite the danger. Don’t let my fear be the reason the Kingdom doesn’t advance. Help me to remember that the harder the task, the more I need to rely on you. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the point.
<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer for courage>
There’s no question that sometimes God doesn’t move as fast as we’d like him to. Maybe we’re waiting for a friend to be healed, or a family member to be encouraged, or sometimes we just don’t have the strength to keep fighting. It’s in those moments that we can’t understand where God is, and why he hasn’t “shown up.” And so fear and doubt begin to creep into our minds. But God’s perspective is different than ours, and that means he sometimes sees things differently than we do. He hasn’t forgotten us, or abandoned us, we just need to be patient and trust him.
Patience – or “Why I hate sitting at red lights”
God – help me to be more patient. Help me to trust you more. Because I certainly don’t wait for you like I should. I want to always be going, and never have to slow down or stop. I don’t want to wait, because I’m in too much of a hurry. Help me to understand that sometimes the reason I need to wait is that I’m not ready for what you’re going to do. That I need time to grow into someone who can handle the amazing ways you act. Remind me when I’m impatient that maybe the reason I need to wait is for my own good, for my own safety. And that by waiting for you, you’re making sure I’m not hit broadside by something unplanned.
<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer for patience>
Have you ever stopped to think about the amazing things people have created? Just look at the skyscrapers we build, the planes we fly, and even the computers we use. It’s simply amazing. We can easily draw the conclusion that what God needs is more of our success. More of our brilliance. And more of our strengths. (e.g., Deuteronomy 9)
Yet that’s not really what God uses to change the world. Instead, he uses our weaknesses to show the world his strengths.
weakness is our strength
God – it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in my own ideas of brilliance, of what I think I need to do, and what I need to provide. But you don’t need any of that, because you specialize in taking the weak to humble the strong. Help me to see that it’s in my weakness and humility that you do the most radical things. Help me to never lose sight of this, so that I am never afraid to take a risk for you.
I don’t need to be perfect, because that’s not what you ask me to be. You simply ask me to be faithful, and trusting.
<comments are open>
God wants us to be in a relationship with him, and it’s difficult to do that if you don’t spend any time talking to him. That’s where prayer comes in. It’s simply a conversation between you and God. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or formal. In fact, usually the most important prayers come when we’re just speaking from our hearts, not worrying about finding the “right words.”
On prayer thursday everyone is invited to add their own prayer, or prayer requests in the comments section. This week’s topic: obedience.
God – Sometimes we hear you telling us to do something and we ignore you. Sometimes we ignore you because we’re afraid. Other times it’s because we “know better.” But lets face it, we really don’t. We just want to be the ones in charge. We’re stubborn.
Help me to overcome my own selfishness, and stubbornness. Help me to resist the temptation to do it “my way.” But most of all, help me follow you, even when it feels too big or too overwhelming. Help me be obedient when I think I can’t.
<comments are open>
I am convinced that God answers prayers. I’m also convinced that praying is the quickest way to build a relationship with him. No matter how much you read a biography about someone, or no matter how many times you’ve heard someone describe a stranger, you never really know someone until you talk to them.
So I’m going to start a new regular feature on R3: prayer thursday.
On every “prayer thursday”, there will be something to pray about. Some days it will be for others, some days it will be for ourselves, and other times it will be for whatever you feel like. I’m also opening up comments so anyone can post their prayer.
God – it’s all too easy to live a life where we don’t follow our dreams. We all have unique skills that you want to use to change the world. Help us to live out those dreams and not settle for something less. Something that doesn’t feel so daunting. Let us reach for the dreams you’ve given us.
comments are open